Located in the National University of Tsukuba (Japan), VPN-Gate is an academic research project designed to study the distribution of public VPN relay servers globally. Having begun their operations in 2013, they claim their service can break through most firewalls and have more advantages than traditional VPN providers. So, if they’re not a bog-standard VPN provider, what attributes do they have that make them distinct from the rest?
VPN-Gate has one huge advantage in that it does work with Netflix, including Netflix US. Although, this usually depends on the sever as weren't able to access Netflix on every US server. For greater reliability with Netflix, I'd recommend one of these leading vendors.
They are kept alive by volunteers rather than relying on paid users. Volunteers are not only located in Tsukuba but internet users around the world who host their own relay server by supplying their ISP bandwidth and CPU power. Other users around the world can then connect to one of these IP addresses to access the web and benefit from all the positive functions that a VPN can offer: unblock restricted content, surf anonymously and maintain privacy. Volunteers come and go on a frequent basis, so the range of IP addresses change regularly which has the advantage of offering users a wider range of servers based in various locations around the globe.
Unblocking restricted content in your geographical area is another incentive with VPN-Gate.
Firewalls are known to purposefully blacklist a whole range of IP addresses in an attempt to thwart users accessing certain content but with VPN-Gate’s continually changing pool of servers to choose from and dynamic (frequently changing) IP addresses, this could be particularly useful tool to burst through most firewalls. Many commercial VPN services provide static IP addresses and often have a limited amount of servers which can hinder the ability to burst through Firewalls, so VPN-Gate may very well live up to their claim of being to able to overcome this obstacle.
Servers are typically based in the Asian continent, such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand, with other volunteers offering servers in Europe, the Middle East, as well as North and South America. A real time list of available servers are provided on their main website, followed by the instructions on how to connect. So, users can hide their true IP address and access foreign content – whether it’s controversial news websites or even streaming services like Netflix, Spotify or YouTube.
It’s a totally free service to use with no registration required and works on Windows, Macs, iOS and Androids. All of the common protocols are used: L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSL-VPN (SoftEther VPN) and Microsoft SSTP protocol, which significantly augments the potential to break through firewalls such as Great Firewall of China or even simply get around blocks created by Universities or Colleges.
VPN-Gate can certainly become a useful tool to have while surfing public WiFi hotspots, which are notorious targets for hackers, snoopers and criminals who want to intercept unencrypted traffic from unsuspecting surfers. By connecting to VPN-Gate you’ll shield yourself from eavesdropping as traffic will be encrypted making it nearly impossible for an attacker to sift through your data.
There is no native software for any device but VPN-Gate does supply setup guides for each device depending on which protocol you wish to use. To get going, you’ll either need third-party software such as Tunnelblick for the Mac, SoftEther VPN Client for Windows, or in some cases manually configuring your network settings is required.
Unfortunately, they do collect user data logs which is a huge blow for those seeking to surf anonymously. This is often the case with free VPN services, however there are plenty of paid options out there to solve this dilemma.
In terms of reliability this VPN is perhaps a more volatile and risky option compared to commercially established providers who run a business supported by paid users, not volunteers. Why is this? Only the good nature of the volunteers is what keeps this service alive, and also the willpower of its owners who at any time could decide to abruptly discontinue operations. After all, this was merely a research project, with no obligation to its foreign users, and has stated an intention to only last a few more years.
Whether this VPN appeals to you will depend on your internet activities. VPN-Gate does have drawbacks for their users by collecting logs and there’s also no real guarantee that this service will continue as it’s solely relying on volunteers for its upkeep. However, if you’re simply in need of a tool to unblock specific (perhaps not too private) websites or services then the abundance of server choices and varying protocols make VPN-Gate a worthy option.
As with all free vendors, there's always compromises on what you can do or the level of security you receive. We're not sure VPN-Gate is worth the risk.
VPNgate Features — Updated in January 20227.2
|📝 Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|🖥 Number of servers||8300|
|💻 Number of devices per license||1|
|🛡 Kill switch||No|
|🗺 Based in country||Japan|